'Boys Like U' better watch out as Zand drop their debut single
"It's for anyone who's ever felt the pitiful wrath of a self-entitled cisgender-heterosexual man"
Published: 6:35 pm, March 09, 2018
New beginnings, eh?
After years of performing as Seafoal, Zander Sweeney has left that name, and most of its history behind, as they start over again with new project Zand and brand new song 'Boys Like U'.
You’d think that leap would be terrifying but it’s probably easier if you leave all your expectations at the door. “Oh, I’m not scared,” they begin, laughing in the face of fear.
When Zander first started writing music as Seafoal, it was just about whatever felt good. They ended up releasing “folky acoustic stuff that never really meant all that much to me. I just liked how it sounded at the time,” alongside stripped back Youtube covers. In the years that followed though they started exploring their own influences, from the childhood impact of Imogen Heap, Gorillaz and My Chemical Romance to current obsessions Tommy Cash and Brockhampton (“they’re both genre-defying and redefining stereotypes and it’s sick”) which eventually led them to last year’s ‘Xeraclius’ EP. After constantly moving about and changing direction, that EP let Zander stay in one space and explore it further which led to 'Boys Like U' and a fresh start.
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Between the immersive warped pop of 'Xeraclius' and the in-your-face wink of ‘Boys Like U’, there’s a playful rebellion to Zander’s music that fully backs itself with an arresting confidence. “I've found the kind of sound I'm comfortable in. I've realised that putting out music with meaning is more important than anything, even if it is genuinely raw. I've stopped giving a fuck about whether or not it's going to be played on the radio or if I’m going to ‘make it’ or any of that shit. It's about not playing it safe. It’s about taking risks and putting out art that actually means something to you and other people. ‘Boys Like U’ is meant to have a strong feminist theme and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I feel I can fully immerse myself in the music I want to create now without having to worry too much. Letting go of Seafoal as a stage name has definitely felt like throwing a grand piano off of my shoulders.”
“I don't ever remember feeling scared when it came to releasing my music. From the start, I've been conscious that whatever song anyone puts out, not everyone's gonna like it. I've always just gone forward with that in mind, which has stopped me from having any anxiety about it,” they continue. That fearlessness drives their debut single ‘Boys Like U’. “I like it so if it’s meant to be, I guess the rest will just follow.“
Looming, menacing and with a glint in the eye, ‘Boys Like U’ refuses to play by the rules. “I don't even know where to start with this one,” Zander admits. “When I first started writing it, it originally had the theme of a steamy song about shagging, which is jokes ‘cos that's totally not my thing. I figured I'd try something different but I wasn't really feeling it, so I left it to gather dust. Around a year later, I came home from a shitty night out where this dude grabbed my arse in a bar. Sadly this isn't out of the ordinary for any woman or femme presenting person but I was just fucking fuming and had to write something. I opened up the file for this one because I remembered loving the melody and I just ended up transforming what was originally a song about pleasing a man into a sarcastic ‘fuck off dude’ track about how entitled and creepy men can actually be.”
‘Boys Like U’ marks a new beginning, but it also deals with a familiar enemy. The song "is for anyone who's ever felt the pitiful wrath of a self-entitled cisgender-heterosexual man - whether it's the nice guy who got friend-zoned and thinks you owe him something, the cat-caller who insults you as soon as you tell him to ‘piss off’ or the dude who just assumes that because you're confident in your body then you must want to fuck him and there's something wrong with you if you don't.“ Zand eats them all for breakfast.
The video was written, directed and produced by Zander, which sees them play with their own identity, the expectations of being non-binary and wear gendered insults like armor. “As a DIY artist, videos are one of the many things that can be tricky because obviously everything is completely self-funded, but nothing is impossible if you plan, save, work with passionate people and have friends who are willing to dress up as a clown and snort coffee thickener off a table with you in the name of art.”
There’s a fierceness to way Zand carves out their own space, but a welcome invitation to join them within it. There’s glinting personality throughout and it gives every barbed put down, uncomfortable truth or colourful flourish a weight. And there’s more to come. They’re constantly working on new material, “I've got the next couple of songs planned out and even a cartoon music video in the works,” so brace yourself. There’s a Zand storm coming. (Sorry).